Perspectives on sustainable food systems and their development in Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

University of Oulu, Linnanmaa campus, lecture hall L10

Topic of the dissertation

Perspectives on sustainable food systems and their development in Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Kirsi Korhonen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Science, Geography Research Unit

Subject of study



docent, senior researcher Tuija Mononen, Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies, Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland


docent, principal scientist Toivo Muilu, Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

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Perspectives on sustainable food systems and their development in Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland

Discussions scrutinising sustainable food systems began to intensify during the 2010s, and its various sub-themes are highlighted in political strategies and programmes at several regional levels. Issues related to sustainable food systems may be linked to, for example, local production and its new distribution infrastructures, the availability, accessibility and affordability of nutritious food, and low negative environmental impacts.

This dissertation examined regional organisation, management and development of sustainable activities (related to food systems). The study addressed different aspects of the food system and related issues (needs and opportunities for improving the logistics of local food, functioning and development of consumer-driven food circles, food waste management and potential reduction measures), as well as the perspectives of different food chain operators (producers, consumers, food service sector) in the province of Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland. Several methods and approaches were combined in the collection and processing of the data, the most important were surveys and interviews, geographic information system (GIS)-based accessibility analyses and food waste measurements.

Each sub-study provides good practices and lessons that might benefit the development of sustainable food systems. The sub-studies identified different models for regional organisation and management of sustainable activities and discovered that it is most successful through cooperation at multiple levels and between different actors. On the other hand, the main dimensions of sustainability (environmental, economic, social) were found to be directly or indirectly linked to all the themes addressed in the sub-studies. Ecological sustainability (in particular the carbon footprint) was the most prominent.

This study confirms that a "sustainable food system" is a very multi-dimensional entity. A better identification of the different dimensions would be beneficial in the preparation of regional strategies and development projects in the future. It is also recommended that areal differences and their potential to implement different international and national strategies should more often be taken into consideration.
Last updated: 23.1.2024